This week we bring you South Africa, famous for its exotic game meat! In fact, South Africans love grilling meat so much that they have their very own national day that celebrates it, 'Braai Day'. The mighty braai takes barbecuing to the next level. Word has it that some 15-20 million South Africans braai on Braai Day, a great equaliser in a country with many past and present struggles.
South Africa is also home to the name of our blog, 'Padkos', an Afrikaans word literally translating to 'food taken to eat on a journey'. On our first day in Johannesburg we bumped into a supermarket stand stocked with snack food and bearing the name. In hindsight that doesn't seem out of the ordinary since we were in South Africa after all, but it was a cool surprise as Karla's face shows in the photo below! Biltong, dried meat, is an especially good travel companion.
Although we didn't see much of the country on our visit, we still got a little taste of Jo'burg and its surroundings in the few days we were there. Staying with Aaron's cousin, Sean and his fiancée Daniella, we visited some local haunts, browsed the morning markets and ordered Uber Eats. Looking back it wasn't exactly the traditional culinary journey one might expect, but the comfort food did help before and after our twenty six hours of travelling to and from New Zealand. City black outs (power outages) also didn't exactly help when our hosts had special dinner plans for us.
Despite this we did manage to try some signature South African wines such as Pinotage (sounds like Pinot Noir but tastes more like a Shiraz, or Syrah) and Chenin Blanc (fresh and fruity like a Sauvignon Blanc) from the likes of Stellenboch, the country's more well-known grape growing district. The Pinotage in particular was a real winner on those cool winter evenings.
Other notable experiences were seeing Soccer City (FNB Stadium), experiencing life in a gated community not far from Diepsloot (one of Jo'burgs larger slums or townships), visiting the Apartheid Museum and simply taking in the sights, sounds and smells of a city defined by its wealth and racial divide. It is a city of major contrasts.
For our take on South African cuisine, we managed to dig out four superb recipes from our new cookbook 'Tastes of Africa' by Justice Kamanga. Joining us for the meal was Gilbert, our pet shweshwe giraffe, from the Bryanston organic markets in Jo'burg. We liked the look of him, so decided to adopt him and give him a new home in New Zealand. Needless to say, he attracted lots of "look mummy, there's a giraffe" on the flights back to NZ!
Back to the food. For our entrée course we went with South African health bread. What sets this bread apart is nutty wheat, a popular type of flour in South Africa. When combined with oats, sesame seeds, poppy seeds and sunflower seeds, it makes an oaty, seedy and simply delicious bread that rivals the best of the European doughs. The recipe is simple and quick with no kneading required, so ideal for those short on time. Fresh out of the oven with a healthy spread of butter and voilà, it was tough not to eat the whole loaf in one sitting.
Next up were our two sides, morogo with peanuts and mushrooms and the faithful miele pap. Morogo is a wild spinach that can be found growing between other crops and is a familiar sight in rural South Africa. Not only is it nutritious, but it is also delicious. We used ordinary spinach and it worked a treat. It's easy to pull together and adds plenty of colour to the meal.
Finally, for the main course, we cooked Bobotie. Holy mackerel! Bobotie is the best comfort food since mac'n'cheese. The dish is a South African favourite made with minced beef or lamb and an egg based topping. It gives a spicy, fruity taste with a hint of curry. The history of the dish is traced back to a 17th century Dutch cookbook, eventually making its way over to the Cape of Good Hope where the Cape Malay people adopted it and made it a national favourite. It is a-mazing.
Rounding out the meal was one of the most famous and best loved of South African desserts, milk tart. Also known as melktert in Afrikaans, the dessert is a sweet pastry crust containing a creamy filling made from milk, flour, sugar and eggs. It's essentially custard and pastry. Who doesn't like that combination? It went even better alongside a Don Pedro, the crème de la crème of adult milkshakes (Karla's favourite). The cocktail is a decadent mix of vanilla ice cream, chocolate sauce, and Amarula, a creamy liqueur made from the fruits of the marula tree. Elephants are known to be particularly fond of the fruit.
South African health bread
600g nutty wheat flour
10g sachet instant yeast
4 tsp sesame seeds
4 tsp poppy seeds
2 tbsp sunflower seeds
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 3/4 lukewarm water
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp raw oat topping
3 1/2 cups water divided
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups of white fine cornmeal
Morogo with peanuts and mushrooms
1 head of green cabbage chopped
1/2 large white onion chopped
6 cloves garlic minced
2 inches ginger peeled and minced
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
Juice of 1 lime
salt to taste
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tbsp butter
1 stik celery
3 cloves garlic
500g minced beef
1/4 cup raisins
1 tbsp mild curry powder
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 ground cinammon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 large pinch cayenne pepper
1/2 sugar, dissolved in 2 tbsp white vinegar
salt and pepper
1 cup double cream
salt and pepper
Melktert (pastry and filling)
200g cake flour
a pinch of salt
100g butter, softened
3 tbsp castor sugar
2 egg yolks
3 tbsp water
2 cups milk
2 eggs, separated
1 tsp vanilla essence
ground cinnamon to sprinkle
Some necessary kitchen gadgets and tools:
Cooking skillet/ frying pan
A couple of pots
Here are some interesting tidbits about the country:
South Africa is the only country with three official capitals, Bloemfontein (judicial), Cape Town (legislative), and Pretoria (administrative).
South Africa is extremely rich in mining and minerals and considered the world’s leader with nearly 90% of all the platinum metals on earth and around 41% of all the world’s gold. The world’s largest diamond, 3,106 carats, was found in the Premier Mine in Pretoria in 1905. Weighing in at 1.33 pounds, it was called the ‘Cullinan’ after the owner of the mine. It was later cut into nine large stones and about 100 smaller ones; the largest, the 530.2 carat, known as the Great Star of Africa, is the world's largest colourless cut diamond and can be seen on top of the Queen of England’s Septre with the Cross in the Tower of London.
South Africa is full of record-breaking animals. This is where you can find the largest land mammal (elephant), the largest bird (ostrich), the tallest animal (giraffe), the largest fish (whale shark), the largest reptile (leatherback turtle), the fastest land mammal (cheetah) and the largest antelope (eland).
Also worth a mention is that South Africa is home to the world’s oldest and largest one day ultra-marathon. The 89-kilometre Comrades Marathon started in 1921 as a commemoration of South African soldiers killed during the first world war. With just 12 hours to complete the marathon, we are proud friends of two medal holders, Sean and Harriet. Woohoo.
Considering we didn't see much of South Africa, there are plenty of places on our bucket list. Here are a few:
Spend a weekend in Cape Town, hiking Table Mountain, visiting the resident penguins of Boulders Beach, and touring Robben Island, the prison that housed political prisoners under apartheid, including Nelson Mandela.
Visit Kruger National Park, South Africa's largest and most well know game park.
Take a road trip along the Garden Route, one of the world's great coastal roads from Mossel Bay to Stormsrivier. Learn about wildlife conservation at Gondwana Nature Reserve, spot Great Whites from Robberg Nature Reserve, go tubing down Storms River, hike the Otter Trail, and brave a surf at Jeffrey's Bay (but maybe not if we spot a Great White...).
Next week it's Zimbabwe and we have some special guests joining us. Join our subscribers list and you'll get an email informing you of our next post!
Look what greeted us at O.R. Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg!